By Art Martone
Welcome toFirst Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox.
ONE THING AT A TIME: Noticed that rumors about a replacement for Terry Francona have dried up in the last few days? That may be because, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have decided not to interview any candidates until Theo Epstein's status is resolved.
News on that front is non-existent, though analysis and opinion abound. Gerry Callahan's opinion? Epstein is gone. (Boston Herald) This man's opinion? Chicago had best be a destination and not an escape for Theo (csnne.com), since the pressure to turn the Cubs into a winner will be even higher than the pressure he felt here (if that's possible). Speier's analysis? That the Sox can draw on some of the lessons from their unsuccessful pursuit of Billy Beane in 2002 to guide them now.
When all that's done, then we can turn to the manager's chair. And John Smoltz says it won't be easy to fill it with someone as good as Tito. (csnne.com)
AND AFTER THAT . . . There are player issues to resolve, such as what to do with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. (Boston Globe) Bill Chuck of Nation STATion knows what he'd do. (csnne.com) Hint: Think gold watches and retirement parties.
AND AFTER THAT . . . Focus will turn to improving the team on the field. And more and more, it's look like there'll be a left-handed ace -- CC Sabathia -- available on the free-agent market. (New York Post) But unlike 2007, when they were faced with a similar situation with Alex Rodriguez and said they were ready to let A-Rod walk, the Yankees aren't setting any artificial deadlines with Sabathia. (New York Daily News)
THEY'LL NEED IT: The free-agenttrade market may be the only place the Red Sox will find help this offseason, because it was a barren year down on the farms. (Providence Journal)
WE'LL BE WAITING: When asked if 2012 will be his last season, Mariano Rivera told the New York Post: "I will let you know".
NOW I CAN SLEEP AGAIN: Looks like Derek Jeter's romance with Minka Kelly is back on. (msn.foxsports.com)
IT'S COMING: Bud Selig isn't sure the baseball postseason will expand to 10 teams in 2012, but he sure sounds like it will eventually. (cbssports.com)
WHAT I MEANT TO SAY WAS . . . Stuart Sternberg does a little fence-mending (St. Petersburg Times) with the Rays' fans . . . all 35 of them. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
AND FINALLY . . . Surprised at the Sox' sudden September implosion? So was Jonathan Papelbon. (weei.com)